Cleveland Foundation Announces $13.4 Million in Grants for 1st Quarter

Release Date: 03.25.2011

The board of directors of the Cleveland Foundation today authorized $13.4 million in grants to nonprofit organizations working in community engagement, economic transformation, public education reform, arts and culture, and other areas.

Among those receiving funding this quarter:

Community Engagement

The board awarded $3.1 million to Neighborhood Connections so that it can continue grantmaking to grassroots neighborhood groups and for its work bringing together residents and neighborhoods across Cleveland to address civic issues.

Started and funded solely by the Cleveland Foundation, Neighborhood Connections offers grants between $500 and $5,000 to neighborhood groups throughout Cleveland for projects that improve residents’ quality of life. Since its inception in 2002, Neighborhood Connections has funded more than 1,400 neighborhood projects totaling $4.2 million.

In addition to issuing grants, Neighborhood Connections will use funds to strengthen connections among neighborhood leaders around broad civic issues, such as the foreclosure crisis. The goal is to create a shared vision and action agenda across the city.

“As a flagship program of the foundation, Neighborhood Connections is recognized nationally as one of the most innovative grassroots grantmaking programs in the United States,” said Robert Eckardt, executive vice president at the Cleveland Foundation. “With this latest grant, Neighborhood Connections will leverage the work currently being done by community leaders in Cleveland by providing them technical assistance, training, and opportunities to collaborate.”

Economic Transformation

BioEnterprise received $800,000 to continue its work with fledgling health care and bioscience companies and for further development of the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor. Founded in 2002, BioEnterprise is a business formation, recruitment, and acceleration program to grow health care companies and commercialize bioscience technologies. Its Health-Tech Corridor initiative aims to create a concentration of medical device manufacturers and warehousing, distribution and wholesale trading for hospital supplies and services. The corridor would extend west from University Circle to downtown Cleveland. 

Westside Industrial Retention and Expansion Network (WIRE-Net) received $350,000 for initiatives that help Greater Cleveland manufacturers expand to new markets, grow manufacturing jobs and investment in the wind power industry, and increase investment in public infrastructure and private land and buildings in Cleveland’s industrial districts. The three initiatives work together to help firms grow.

Public Education Reform

The board authorized $200,000 for Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Office of New and Innovative Schools. The office was established in 2007 based on research showing that districts creating a portfolio of new schools required dedicated resources to start up, sustain, and successfully expand new schools. The Office of New and Innovative Schools currently oversees a portfolio of 17 novel public schools, including four single-gender elementary schools, Ginn Academy, MC2 STEM High School, Design Lab High School, the School of Science and Medicine, the School of Architecture and Design, Early College, two new tech high schools, Campus International school, and four district-sponsored charter schools.

Arts and Culture

Playhouse Square Foundation was awarded two grants totaling almost $860,000 for its efforts to create a new theater complex to showcase more local productions and to host a residency for a foreign artist.

A grant of $750,000 is for the Power of Three Allen Theatre Project, which will create a three-venue facility to serve as the shared home for the Cleveland Play House and Cleveland State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance. The renovated Allen Theatre will offer a year-round schedule of professional and college productions, expected to bring an additional 150,000 audience members downtown each year.

A grant of $109,670 will support the seven-month residency of Chilean architect and design artist Christian Schmitt as part of the Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion International Artist in Residence program. While in Cleveland, Schmitt will meet and work with area architects, manufacturers, artists, and students to develop and build a prototype of a sustainable living structure that could be used as temporary shelter for disaster victims.

Other Grants

Other grants this quarter included

  • $250,000 to Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland for expansion and renovation that will add 20,000 square feet to the facility, including 17 additional rooms and two new common areas for families. The house was founded in 1979 as a “home away from home” for families whose children are receiving inpatient or outpatient treatment at area medical centers. Rooms are offered on a sliding-fee scale, and no family is turned away due to inability to pay.
  • $275,000 to the Literacy Cooperative of Greater Cleveland to continue implementing programs designed to improve early childhood and school-age literacy, to provide training for adult literacy providers, and to design and implement a program that helps youth and adults chart their career paths. The Literacy Cooperative is a joint initiative of the Cleveland, George Gund, and Martha Holden Jennings foundations that was launched in response to low levels of literacy in Greater Cleveland.


Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and the nation’s second largest today, with assets of $1.87 billion and 2010 grants of nearly $85 million. The foundation improves the lives of Greater Clevelanders by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking, and providing leadership on vital issues. The foundation proactively directs two-thirds of its flexible grant dollars to the community’s greatest needs: economic transformation, public-school improvement, youth development, neighborhoods, and arts advancement.